NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: YellaWood 500
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, October 1
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
The Purse: $8,806,315
TV: NBC, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 500 miles (188 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 188)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
The Date: Saturday, October 7
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,360,791
TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 155.44 miles (67 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 67)
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Next Race: Love‘s RV Stop 250
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, September 30
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
The Purse: $779,790
TV: FS1, 12 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 250.04 miles (94 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 94)
NASCAR Cup Series
Playoffs heat up at Talladega Superspeedway
Hendrick Motorsports‘ William Byron grabbed the win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend securing his spot in the next round of the postseason, leaving the remaining 11 contenders still vying for one of the spots in the Round of 8 with two races left in the Round of 12 — Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. This weekend the competitors will have to face one of the biggest hurdles in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, as Talladega Superspeedway opens the gates and unleashes its 2.66-miles of asphalt with 33 degrees of banking in the turns for Sunday‘s YellaWood 500 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
The 2023 season marks the seventh consecutive year Talladega Superspeedway will host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2017-2023) — Race No. 31 of the season. Talladega is the third different track to host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; joining Charlotte Motor Speedway (2004 — 2014) and Kansas Speedway (2015 – 2016). The 2.66-mile track is the largest paved oval the series competes on with 33 degrees of banking in the turns.
Talladega Superspeedway has participated in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs since its inception into the series in 2004 and has occupied five different spots on the postseason schedule. Talladega has hosted the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004 — 2005); the fourth race (2006 — 2008 and 2012); the fifth race (2017-2023); the sixth race (2011, 2013 — 2016); and the seventh race (2009 — 2010).
A total of 15 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway. Brad Keselowski (2017, 2014), Clint Bowyer (2010-2011), Jamie McMurray (2009, 2013) and Joey Logano (2015-2016) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in Playoff wins at Talladega Superspeedway with two victories each. Seven of the 15 Talladega Playoff race winners are active this weekend and four of the seven are Playoff contenders this year — Bubba Wallace (2021), Denny Hamlin (2020), Ryan Blaney (2019), Brad Keselowski (2014, 2017).
Talladega Superspeedway Playoff Race WinnersTrackRace WinnerDateTalladegaChase ElliottSunday, October 2, 2022TalladegaBubba WallaceMonday, October 4, 2021TalladegaDenny HamlinSunday, October 4, 2020TalladegaRyan BlaneySunday, October 13, 2019TalladegaAric AlmirolaSunday, October 14, 2018TalladegaBrad KeselowskiSunday, October 15, 2017TalladegaJoey LoganoSunday, October 23, 2016TalladegaJoey LoganoSunday, October 25, 2015TalladegaBrad KeselowskiSunday, October 19, 2014TalladegaJamie McMurraySunday, October 20, 2013TalladegaMatt KensethSunday, October 7, 2012TalladegaClint BowyerSunday, October 23, 2011TalladegaClint BowyerSunday, October 31, 2010TalladegaJamie McMurraySunday, November 1, 2009TalladegaTony StewartSunday, October 5, 2008TalladegaJeff GordonSunday, October 7, 2007TalladegaBrian VickersSunday, October 8, 2006TalladegaDale JarrettSunday, October 2, 2005TalladegaDale Earnhardt JrSunday, October 3, 2004
During the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Era (2004-Present), the winner of the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race has never gone on to win the title in the same season. But twice the Talladega Playoff race winner has finished runner-up in the championship standings at the end of the season: Jeff Gordon (2007) and Joey Logano (2016).
The worst finish in a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 37th by Kyle Larson in 2021.
A total of 15 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series fifth race in the Playoffs; nine of the 15 are active this weekend and four are currently in the Playoffs — Bubba Wallace (2022 Talladega), Denny Hamlin (2021 Talladega), Ryan Blaney (2019 Talladega) and Brad Keselowski (2017 Talladega and 2013 Charlotte).
Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins in the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with three victories (2004, 2005, 2009 — all at Charlotte Motor Speedway). Brad Keselowski (2013 Charlotte and 2017 Talladega) and Kevin Harvick (2014 Charlotte and 2016 Kansas) lead all active drivers in wins in the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with two each.
Playoff Race No. 5 — Race Winners (Race No. 31 of 36)TrackRace WinnerDateTalladegaChase ElliottSunday, October 2, 2022TalladegaBubba WallaceMonday, October 4, 2021TalladegaDenny HamlinSunday, October 4, 2020TalladegaRyan BlaneySunday, October 13, 2019TalladegaAric AlmirolaSunday, October 14, 2018TalladegaBrad KeselowskiSunday, October 15, 2017KansasKevin HarvickSunday, October 16, 2016KansasJoey LoganoSunday, October 18, 2015CharlotteKevin HarvickSaturday, October 11, 2014CharlotteBrad KeselowskiSaturday, October 12, 2013CharlotteClint BowyerSaturday, October 13, 2012CharlotteMatt KensethSaturday, October 15, 2011CharlotteJamie McMurraySaturday, October 16, 2010CharlotteJimmie JohnsonSaturday, October 17, 2009CharlotteJeff BurtonSaturday, October 11, 2008CharlotteJeff GordonSaturday, October 13, 2007CharlotteKasey KahneSaturday, October 14, 2006CharlotteJimmie JohnsonSaturday, October 15, 2005CharlotteJimmie JohnsonSaturday, October 16, 2004
Twice the winner of the fifth race in the Playoffs has gone on to win the title later that season; both happening at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2004-2014). In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fifth race of the Playoffs from the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway and then went on to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title — it was his third of four wins in the 2009 postseason. Then in 2014, Kevin Harvick won the fifth race of the Playoffs from the seventh starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win his first career NASCAR Cup Series title — it was his first of three wins during the 2014 postseason.
Six times a non-Playoff driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway:
In 2005, Dale Jarrett won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 14th in points.In 2006, Brian Vickers won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 16th in points.In 2009, Jamie McMurray won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 22nd in points.In 2011, Clint Bowyer won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 13th in points.In 2013, Jamie McMurray won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 14th in points.In 2021, Bubba Wallace won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 21st in points.
Three times a non-Playoff driver has won the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs:
In 2010, Jamie McMurray won the fifth race in the Playoffs at Charlotte; he was 14th in points.In 2013, Brad Keselowski won the fifth race in Playoffs at Charlotte; he was 16th in points.In 2021, Bubba Wallace won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 21st in points.
Sweet Home Alabama: NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway
Since it opened it has been deemed one of the most daunting tracks on the schedule and this weekend‘s YellaWood 500 (Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway looks to be another fantastic opportunity for some close side-by-side competition the fans have come to love.
In total there have been 108 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, one Cup event in 1969, and two races per year since 1970. Among the 108 Cup events, the track has hosted 19 Playoff races in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Overall, 46 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway, 24 of the 46 have done it multiple times and seven of the 46 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Talladega are active this weekend.
Active Talladega Pole Winners (7)PolesSeasonsChristopher Bell22022 sweepChase Elliott22019, ’16Kevin Harvick22018, ’05Denny Hamlin12023Austin Dillon12019Ricky Stenhouse Jr12017Martin Truex Jr12016
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Talladega Superspeedway with eight poles (1985 sweep, 1986 sweep, 1987 sweep, spring 1990 and fall 1993). Kevin Harvick (2005, 2018), Chase Elliott (2016, 2019) and Christopher Bell (2022 sweep) lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Talladega with two each.
The 108 Cup races at Talladega have also produced 51 different NASCAR Cup Series race winners at the 2.66-mile track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in wins at Talladega with 10 victories (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep and 2000).
Eleven of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Talladega Superspeedway are active this weekend, led by Brad Keselowski with six wins at Talladega Superspeedway (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021); followed by Joey Logano with three victories (2015, 2016, 2018).
Active Talladega Race Winners (11)WinsSeasonsBrad Keselowski62021, ’17, ’16, ’14, ’12, ’09Joey Logano32018, ’16, ’15Kyle Busch22023, ’08Chase Elliott22022, ’19Denny Hamlin22020, ’14Ryan Blaney22020, ’19Ross Chastain12022Bubba Wallace12021Aric Almirola12018Ricky Stenhouse Jr12017Kevin Harvick12010
Six of the 11 active Cup Talladega winners are Playoff drivers — Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace. This weekend‘s YellaWood 500 will be broken up into three stages the first two stages will be 60 laps each and final stage will be 68 laps.
On-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series begins with Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be on the USA Network.
Talladega Clinch Scenarios: Seven positions up for grabs in the Round of 8
Just two races left for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff competitors in the Round of 12 to secure their spot in the Round of 8, and with Hendrick Motorsports‘ William Byron taking the win last weekend at Texas, seven of the eight spots are still up for grabs as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the YellaWood 500 (Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the fifth race of the 2023 postseason.
The following driver has clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round: William Byron.
Can Clinch Via Points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain or Brad Keselowski.
Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with helpChris Buescher: Could only clinch with helpChristopher Bell: Could only clinch with helpMartin Truex Jr.: Could only clinch with helpRoss Chastain: Could only clinch with helpBrad Keselowski: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Kyle Larson or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.
Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with helpChris Buescher: Could only clinch with helpChristopher Bell: Could only clinch with helpMartin Truex Jr.: Could only clinch with helpRoss Chastain: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch
Playoff Bubble: Round of 12 provides plenty of unpredictability
While the unpredictability of the close quarters racing at Talladega Superspeedway, or the multiple twists and turns of the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL are enough to keep the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff teams up at night, but they should find solace in knowing it could be those same track attributes that help get them to Victory Lane over these next two weekends.
Since the inception of the ‘elimination-style‘ format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, the driver that wins at Talladega Superspeedway in the postseason has clinched a needed spot in the next round in seven of the nine postseason races held (2014-2022). Joey Logano in 2015 is the lone winner at Talladega since 2014 that had already clinched his spot in the next round prior to competing at the 2.66-mile track — Logano swept the Round of 12 in 2015 winning all three races that season (Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega). Then in 2021, for the first-time since the ‘elimination-style‘ format was introduced in 2014 a non-Playoff driver (Bubba Wallace) won the Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race.
Talladega Superspeedway Playoff Race Winners Since 2014TrackRace WinnerClinch Status Heading Into ‘DegaDateTalladegaChase Elliott7th in PointsSunday, October 2, 2022TalladegaBubba Wallace22nd in PointsMonday, October 4, 2021TalladegaDenny Hamlin2nd in PointsSunday, October 4, 2020TalladegaRyan Blaney12th in PointsSunday, October 13, 2019TalladegaAric Almirola9th in PointsSunday, October 14, 2018TalladegaBrad Keselowski10th in PointsSunday, October 15, 2017TalladegaJoey Logano8th in PointsSunday, October 23, 2016TalladegaJoey LoganoClinched On WinsSunday, October 25, 2015TalladegaBrad Keselowski10th in PointsSunday, October 19, 2014
This weekend, Bubba Wallace (ninth), Tyler Reddick (10th), Ryan Blaney (11th) and Kyle Busch (12th) find themselves south of the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 cutline as they head into the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Outlook Following Race No. 30RankDriverPointsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff Pts+ / – Cutoff1William Byron (P)3,0836841In On Wins2Denny Hamlin (P)3,0743732373Chris Buescher (P)3,0593121224Christopher Bell (P)3,0571416205Martin Truex Jr. (P)3,0563636196Ross Chastain (P)3,0491511127Brad Keselowski (P)3,045051188Kyle Larson (P)3,039352429Bubba Wallace (P)3,037000-210Tyler Reddick (P)3,0362515-311Ryan Blaney (P)3,028138-1112Kyle Busch (P)3,0223219-1713Kevin Harvick2,102014Eliminated from the Playoffs14Ricky Stenhouse Jr.2,09610515Joey Logano2,08713816Michael McDowell2,087127
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Country-Rock Breakout HARDY to Perform Fall Saturday Night Concert Presented by Cabo Wabo© Tequila at Talladega Superspeedway – Country-rock heavy hitter HARDY will headline Talladega Superspeedway‘s Fall Saturday Night Concert Presented by Cabo Wabo© Tequila this weekend. The five-time ACM Award winner and reigning AIMP and BMI Country Songwriter of the Year will have fans amped up the evening before the YellaWood 500, which serves as the second race in the Round of 12 during the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
HARDY‘s second studio album, the mockingbird & THE CROW, debuted top five all genre on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, adding to over 2.7 billion career streams to date. He‘s written 13 #1 singles, including his own double-platinum #1 single “ONE BEER” feat. Lauren Alaina + Devin Dawson and most recent #1, “wait in the truck” feat. Lainey Wilson. HARDY is one of the most popular rising faces in country music with a sold-out headlining arena tour on deck this fall. He‘s previously toured with superstar country artists such as Thomas Rhett, Morgan Wallen, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, and more.
“HARDY is one of the most popular country artists on the rise and I have no doubt he‘ll bring an energized performance for our Saturday Night Infield Concert,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “He‘s going to bring a unique mix of southern country and rock to our fans, and we couldn‘t be more excited to let him light up our stage.”
NASCAR Cup Series milestones to watch for this season — Below is a look at some of the anticipated NASCAR Cup Series milestones to watch for this season.
Drivers that are expected to make milestone starts during this season are:
Erik Jones — 250th NASCAR Cup Series start — Talladega Superspeedway (10/1)
This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Erik Jones will become the 115th different driver to make 250 or more starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. Jones made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Kansas Speedway on May 9, 2015 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Daniel Suarez — 250th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)
Ryan Preece — 150th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)
Ty Gibbs — 50th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)
Denny Hamlin — 650th NASCAR Cup Series start — Phoenix Raceway (11/5)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — 400th NASCAR Cup Series start — Phoenix Raceway (11/5)
Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in career wins with 63, followed by Kevin Harvick (60), Denny Hamlin (51), Brad Keselowski (35), Martin Truex Jr. (34), Joey Logano (32), and Kyle Larson (22).
Wood Brothers Racing is on the cusp a milestone victory in the NASCAR Cup Series and will look for their 100th NASCAR Cup Series win this weekend.
Hendrick Motorsports leads all active NASCAR Cup Series organizations in wins with 300, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing (207), RFK Racing (141), Team Penske (137), Richard Childress Racing (116), Wood Brothers Racing (99), Stewart-Haas Racing (69), Trackhouse Racing (5), 23XI Racing (5), Front Row Motorsports (4), JTG Daugherty Racing (2), Kaulig Racing (1), Spire Motorsports (1).
Closing in on NASCAR Cup Series win number 850, Chevrolet currently has 848 wins — the most all-time in the Cup Series. Ford has the second most wins all-time in the Cup Series at 726 and Toyota has the fifth-most all-time at 179 (behind Dodge at 217 and Plymouth at 191).
Car Number Starts
No. 8 car will make its 1,500th start in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Talladega.
Car Number Wins
No. 99 car‘s next win will be its 50th in the NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
John Hunter Nemechek hits lucky number seven
They say Texas is a “go big or go home” kind of state and Joe Gibbs Racing‘s John Hunter Nemechek definitely went big, securing his seventh win of the 2023 season (Auto Club, Martinsville, Atlanta, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kansas, Texas).
The win marked his second at Texas Motor Speedway and his ninth overall in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He has posted the most wins in the series (seven) this season, with his closest competition being JR Motorsports‘ Justin Allgaier with three wins.
Nemechek will head to the final race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course worry free as he clinched his spot in the Round of 8 with his win in Texas. Nemechek joins Cole Custer, who clinched on points and Justin Allgaier (Bristol winner) as the three drivers locked-in to the next round.
The 26-year-old heads to the Charlotte ROVAL with only one Xfinity Series start in the books. He ran in 2019 and posted a seventh-place finish.
Charlotte ROVAL Clinch Scenarios: Five spots still remain open
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be taking the week off to gear up for the final race in the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (ROVAL), the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina on Saturday, October 7 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Three drivers have already clinched their spot in the Round of 8, which will kick off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 14 — Justin Allgaier (Bristol) and John Hunter Nemechek (Texas) with their respective wins and Cole Custer by virtue of points.
Let‘s take a look at how the rest of the field will need to perform to make sure their names are listed in the five remaining Playoff spots:
Can Clinch Via Points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Cole Custer, Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith or Sheldon Creed.
Austin Hill: Would clinch with 11 pointsChandler Smith: Would clinch with 23 pointsSammy Smith: Would clinch with 37 pointsSheldon Creed: Would clinch with 46 pointsDaniel Hemric: Would clinch with 54 pointsParker Kligerman: Would clinch with 55 pointsJeb Burton: Could only clinch with helpJosh Berry: Could only clinch with helpSam Mayer: Could only clinch with help
The following drivers could clinch on points with a win by Daniel Hemric:
Austin Hill: Would clinch with 12 pointsChandler Smith: Would clinch with 24 pointsSammy Smith: Would clinch with 38 pointsSheldon Creed: Would clinch with 47 pointsParker Kligerman: Could only clinch with helpJeb Burton: Could only clinch with helpJosh Berry: Could only clinch with helpSam Mayer: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Parker Kligerman or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 6th winless driver in the standings.
Austin Hill: Would clinch with 13 pointsChandler Smith: Would clinch with 25 pointsSammy Smith: Would clinch with 39 pointsSheldon Creed: Would clinch with 48 pointsDaniel Hemric: Could only clinch with helpParker Kligerman: Could only clinch with helpJeb Burton: Could only clinch with helpJosh Berry: Could only clinch with helpSam Mayer: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith, Sheldon Creed, Daniel Hemric, Parker Kligerman, Jeb Burton, Josh Berry, Sam Mayer
Putting it all on the line at Charlotte
NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers have one more shot to keep their Playoff run going at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, before heading to the next round of the Playoffs starting at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Here‘s a look at how the 2023 Round of 12 contenders have performed on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course:
John Hunter Nemechek: Newly clinched into the Round of 8 with his win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, Nemechek heads to the Charlotte ROVAL with one start on his resume, where he posted a seventh-place finish.
Justin Allgaier: A more seasoned driver on the Charlotte road course, Allgaier has made five starts, posting two top five and three top 10 finishes.
Cole Custer: Currently third in the Playoff standings, Custer has made two starts at the Charlotte ROVAL, posting top-10 finishes in both races.
Austin Hill: Fourth in the standings, Hill has three starts at the Charlotte road course under his belt, posting a best finish of 18th in 2021.
Chandler Smith: Fifth in the Playoff standings and the current leader of the 2023 Sunoco rookie class, Smith will head to the Charlotte ROVAL next weekend to make his series debut on the road course.
Sammy Smith: Sliding into the sixth Playoff spot is rookie Sammy Smith who will also be making his series debut on the Charlotte road course next weekend.
Sheldon Creed: Currently seventh in the Playoff standings, Creed has made one start at the Charlotte ROVAL where he posted a 16th-place finish.
Daniel Hemric: Currently in the eighth and final spot to transfer on pints to the Round of 8, Hemric heads to Charlotte ROVAL with four starts in the books with two top-five and three top-10 finishes.
Parker Kligerman: One point below the Round of 8 cutline in ninth, Kligerman will be looking to punch his ticket into the next round of the Playoffs. He will be making his series debut on the road course next weekend.
Jeb Burton: In the 10th spot is Jeb Burton, who has made two starts at the Charlotte ROVAL, posting a best finish of 13th in 2021.
Josh Berry: Twenty-seven points under the Round of 8 cutline in 11th is Josh Berry, who has made one start on the Charlotte road course, posting an eighth-place finish.
Sam Mayer: In the final Round of 12 spot, 34 points under the cutline is JRM‘s Sam Mayer. He has made three starts at the Charlotte ROVAL, posting one top-10 finish.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Sammy Smith to join JR Motorsports in 2024 — Current driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, Sammy Smith, will be joining JR Motorsports next season to get behind the wheel of the No. 8 Chevrolet.
The No. 8, currently driven by Josh Berry, will become available next season as Berry moves up to the NASCAR Cup Series to driver the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
“Sammy is a great fit for our program and will mesh well with our other drivers,” said JRM team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “He‘s a young, talented racer who‘s willing to learn and carries himself with a lot of professionalism. He has a bright future ahead. I‘m excited for our team to help him continue his journey.”
Sammy Smith is currently second in the 2023 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 13 points behind Chandler Smith in the rookie points lead.
Hendrick Motorsports taps into two drivers for Xfinity Series lineup — Hendrick Motorsports has added two drivers to close out the Xfinity Series season — Boris Said and Rajah Caruth.
Said will return to the Xfinity Series for the first time since the 2021 season next weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course behind the wheel of the No. 17 Chevrolet. The 61-year-old has made 149 NASCAR national series starts, 29 of which have been in the Xfinity Series. In those 29 starts, he has posted one win (Montreal, 2010), seven top fives and nine top 10s.
Caruth, who currently competes full time in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, will be getting his shot in the No. 17 Chevrolet at the championship race at Phoenix Raceway. He has made 15 starts in the Xfinity Series between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, posting a best finish of 12th last season at Martinsville.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series hold on for an exciting Talladega race
After a week to regroup and go over strategy, the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series competitors head to the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway for the Love‘s RV Stop 250 (Saturday, September 30 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM Radio).
The 2.66-mile superspeedway has hosted 17 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races since its inaugural CRAFTSMAN Truck Series event on October 7, 2006 — a race won by Mark Martin driving the No. 6 Roush Racing (now known as RFK) Ford.
Notably, there have been 12 different race winners and 15 different pole winners. Timothy Peters leads the series with three wins at the superspeedway in Alabama. Peters also holds the series-most top-five finishes with five and is tied with veteran Matt Crafton with six top-10 finishes each.
Talladega has participated in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs since its inception in 2016. The 2023 season marks the third time the superspeedway has hosted the fifth race in the Playoffs (2021, 2022, and 2023). This is the third different spot that Talladega has resided on the Playoff schedule. In 2016, 2017, 2018, the track played host to the third Playoff race. In 2019, it moved to host the fourth race, but moved back to the first-round elimination race in 2020.
All seven previous Playoff races at Talladega have been won by non-Playoff drivers.
NCTS Playoff Race Winners at Talladega (2016-2022)DateRace WinnerSeasonRace No.Saturday, October 22, 2016Grant Enfinger201619Saturday October 14, 2017Parker Kligerman201719Saturday October 13, 2018Timothy Peters201819Saturday, October 12, 2019Spencer Boyd201920Saturday, October 3, 2020Raphael Lessard202019Saturday, October 2, 2021Tate Fogleman202120Saturday, October 1, 2022Matt DiBenedetto202221
Everyone wants a piece of ‘Dega
With 40 entries for 36 spots in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race this weekend, qualifying will be extremely important — not to mention, there will be no practice for the competitors. Among the entries this weekend, there are eight drivers who hope to make their track debut at Talladega Superspeedway — Rajah Caruth, Jake Drew, Daniel Dye, Jake Garcia, Taylor Gray, Nick Sanchez, Greg Van Alst, and Ryan Vargas.
Several NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will also be attempting to dip their toes in the water at Talladega. Two-time Talladega NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series winner Parker Kligerman will be piloting the No. 75 Henderson Motorsport Chevrolet. The current Xfinity Series Playoff driver has made 116 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts with three wins, 23 top-five finishes, and 52 top- 10 finishes.
Front Row Motorsports will be fielding a second truck to join 2022 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion Zane Smith. Twelve-time winner and the 2018 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt will get behind the wheel of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford. Moffitt heads to Talladega with three previous CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts at the track. He has one top-five and two top-10 finishes at the superspeedway. His best finish is fourth.
TRICON Garage co-owner David Gilliland plans to get behind the wheel of the No. 1 TRICON Garage Toyota this weekend. In his CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Talladega debut, Gilliland was the pole sitter and finished third. The 47-year-old has made 21 starts in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series with three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes.
Jennifer Jo Cobb, a role model for women in motorsports, hopes to take on the steep banking of Talladega behind the wheel of the No.10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet. The Kansas City, Kansas native holds several CRAFTSMAN Truck Series competition records, including the highest-finishing female driver in overall season points and most starts by a female driver in the series. In 11 starts at Talladega, Cobb has never finished in the top-10. Her best finish at the track is 11th (2018).
The competitors will kick off their fifth Playoff weekend with qualifying at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, September 30 on FS2.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff OutlookFollowing Bristol Motor Speedway — Sept. 14, 2023RankDriverStartsPointsRace WinsPlayoff Pts+ /- Cutoff1Corey Heim (P)193,080335In On Win2Christian Eckes (P)203,079326293Carson Hocevar (P)203,068318224Grant Enfinger (P)203,064324145Zane Smith (P)203,050222-146Ben Rhodes (P)203,045113-197Nick Sanchez # (P)203,04206-228Ty Majeski (P)203,042016-22
Playoff Clinch Scenarios: Three spots left for Championship 4 Round
With one race down in the Round of 8 and one ticket claimed for the Championship 4, here is a look at the clinch scenarios for the 8-driver field:
The following driver has clinched a spot in the four-driver field of the next round: Corey Heim.
Can Clinch Via Points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 3rd winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Christian Eckes or Carson Hocevar.
Christian Eckes: Could only clinch with helpCarson Hocevar: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Grant Enfinger or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 2nd winless driver in the standings.
Christian Eckes: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger, Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Nicholas Sanchez, Ty Majeski
Playoff Bubble: Smith, Rhodes, Sanchez, Majeski outside Championship 4 cutline
Following the Round of 8 opener at Bristol Motor Speedway, Corey Heim was the first to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 Round at Phoenix Raceway. With just two races left in the Round of 8, the competitors are starting to feel the heat. As Talladega looms closer, the drivers sitting below the cutline are Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Nick Sanchez, and Ty Majeski.
Driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet, Zane Smith, has gone on to the title round the last three years. Last season, the reigning CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion advanced to the Championship 4 Round by scoring two runner-up finishes in the Round of 8, in addition to a 17th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway. Smith has experienced both highs and lows this postseason — finishing fifth at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, 12th at the Milwaukee Mile, fifth at Kansas Speedway, and 24th at Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago. Although the 24-year-old has previous experience managing these Playoff rounds, the looming uncertainty of superspeedway racing certainly doesn‘t add much comfort.
Ty Majeski completely dominated the Round of 8 last season, winning both Bristol and Homestead — besting Zane Smith both times. The Seymour, Wisconsin native is currently 22-points back from the final transfer spot currently being held by Grant Enfinger. Although the deficit is significant, Majeski and the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford team will need to maximize the next 6 stages. The 29-year-old burst into the Playoffs with momentum after leading 168 laps at Richmond in the regular season finale before finishing second. Majeski completely dominated the field at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park taking the checkered flag after leading 179 of 200 laps. But following Indianapolis, the No. 98 team has lost some steam — finishing seventh in Milwaukee, 18th at Kansas, and 19th in Bristol.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Nick Sanchez is also sitting back -22 points from that final transfer position. Although the rookie will be making his Talladega debut in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Sanchez won at the superspeedway in the ARCA Menards Series last year and finished third in 2021. Like the two competitors previously, the driver of the No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet has seen some of the lows that postseason has to offer — finishing 11th at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, 24th at Milwaukee, eighth at Kansas, and ninth at Bristol. The 22-year-old heads to Talladega still aiming for his first victory of his CRAFTSMAN Truck Series career.
Ben Rhodes scraped his way into the Round of 8 by five points. The 2021 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion heads to Talladega ranked sixth in the Playoff standings -16 points from the fourth and final spot in the championship round. In seven starts at Talladega, the Louisville, Kentucky native has an average finish of 13.4. Last year, the driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford managed a second-place finish at the superspeedway. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, the Playoffs haven‘t been off to the best start — finishing 16th at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, 16th at Milwaukee, 25th at Kansas, and seventh at Bristol. Like his competitors, his previous experience in the Playoff rounds doesn‘t add much comfort heading into Talladega.
NCTS Playoffs Contender‘s Career Performances at Talladega Superspeedway
RankDriverRacesPolesWinsTop FivesTop 10sDNFsAverage Finish1Corey Heim10000126.02Christian Eckes20011111.53Carson Hocevar20000126.54Grant Enfinger90123214.65Zane Smith30000227.76Ben Rhodes71022213.47Nick Sanchez #0000000.08Ty Majeski10000023.0
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Etc.
Spire Motorsports acquires Kyle Busch Motorsports and Rowdy Manufacturing — Kyle Busch, the winningest driver in CRAFTSMAN Truck Series history and owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced this week that he has sold KBM and Rowdy Manufacturing to Spire Motorsports. Included in the sale are the assets of Busch‘s NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series team and the assets of Rowdy Manufacturing‘s chassis building operation and CNC machine shop along with the 77,000-square-foot facility that houses both operations.
KBM holds the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series records for most career wins (100) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to having produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017), the organization has collected a series-record seven owner‘s championships.
“I‘m at a different point in my life now than I was back in 2010,” Busch said. “My family has grown; my Cup Series team changed this year and our son‘s racing schedule has become as demanding as my own. It‘s important to me to be able to spend more time with my family and my No. 8 team at Richard Childress Racing. It‘ll be hard to walk away from the amazing facility that we‘ve built. I‘ll miss walking the shop floor talking with our employees, hosting our fan days in the lobby, and spending countless hours there ensuring its success. However, I know at this point in my life and in my career that this is the correct decision.”
Chandler Smith to drive No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet at Talladega — Following Bristol, Rackley W.A.R. announced that a new driver will get behind the wheel of the No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet for the remainder of the season. Chandler Smith, who is currently racing for a championship and Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, will make his first CRAFTSMAN Truck Series start of the season this weekend.
In 61 career CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts, the 20-year-old has boasted five wins, 23 top-fives and 24 top- 10 finishes. Smith made the Playoffs during both of his full-time seasons and finished a career-best third in the championship standings in 2022. Rackley W.A.R.‘s No. 25 Chevrolet is the defending winner at Talladega as Matt DiBenedetto snagged the victory when an overtime attempt ended the race under caution.
The team, in its third year as a full-time CRAFTSMAN Truck Series team, made history this season becoming the first Tennessee-based CRAFTSMAN Truck Series to make a run for the Playoffs. The team was eliminated from the Round of 10 at Kansas Speedway.
“I‘m super-grateful for Rackley W.A.R. giving me the opportunity to run their truck this weekend at Talladega,” Smith said. “Being able to represent Rackley Roofing, W.A.R. Shocks, and this entire organization is extremely cool. I‘m definitely proud of and looking forward to the opportunity.”
— NASCAR —